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EcoPark's Easter Family Fun Days

Posted: Monday 2nd May 2016 by JessK

EcoPark’s Easter family fun days were a huge success - kick-started by a gloriously sunny morning with families raring to begin their minibeast hunts and bug hotels, followed by planting of bee and butterfly friendly species and creating wonderful wild art by transforming clothes pegs into beautiful butterflies!

Located on a large inner city nature reserve, EcoPark provides local people with a rare haven of woodland, flower meadow and ponds. This unique area draws countless families every year to get involved with their local wildlife and learn more about the hidden beauties of the natural world, sometimes to experience them for the first time. Thanks to support from players of People’s Postcode Lottery, a programme of fun learning experiences have been provided for families across Birmingham and the Black Country.

Following a run of beautifully warm weather, the first of EcoPark’s family fun days did not disappoint. Bug pots at the ready - the first activity of the day was minibeast hunting! After a quick talk about looking after the animals found (including not putting two in together in case they eat each other!) everyone was equipped with a magnifying pot and checklist and off they went. There are millions of delightful creepy crawlies surrounding us and we found them hidden in every place we looked. There were wolf spiders under log piles, a frog in the long grass and thanks to the sunshine even a few bumblebees. Almost all of the bugs were ticked off the list but sadly it was too soon in the year to see a dragonfly – maybe next time!

After all the bugs had been discovered it was time to make a hotel for the creatures living in our backyards. City gardens are home to over 2,000 different types of insects so with all this diversity it is important to the protect species that are declining in the wider countryside. Families filled plant pots to bursting point with cut reed mace to provide microhabitats. Different animals will inhabit these humble abodes depending on where in the garden they are located. If placed high in the sunshine solitary bees could use the hollow stems to build their nest, whereas if it’s on the floor mixed in with the soil and leaf litter invertebrates might burrow inside in search of warm, safe hibernation sites.

 

'A much needed resource for inner city children to make for kind, caring adults'

 

After a rainy night the air was filled dew and the whole of EcoPark smelt beautifully damp, especially because the grass had been freshly mown! However, this provided perfect conditions for the second week’s activities – planting butterfly and bee friendly plants.

Gardens act as stepping stones in the urban environment to help species move between green spaces as well as providing a wealth of nectar for foraging species. This week at EcoPark, families were able to plant sunflowers and a collection of wild flowers (including Corn Marigold, Oxeye Daisy and Poppy) in pots to take home for their gardens! These plants are rich in pollen and nectar which are great for butterflies and bees. Butterflies love sunflowers because of the large head they can land on and bees like open flowers which they can climb into. Our wild bees play a vital role in pollinating the flowers in our gardens but sadly they are thought to be in decline - by planting these species you can help reduce this trend. Inviting these two winged horticulturalists into your gardens not only serves a practical purpose but is a delight to behold.

Afterward, children were able to unleash their creative sides and make their own butterflies. Using a wooden clothes peg for the body, they decorated with felt tip pens and fixed multicloured pipe cleaners for the wing, legs and antenna, creating all kinds of new species.

Events are held at the EcoPark in all the school holidays – keep your eyes peeled on our What’s on page to make sure you don’t miss out next time!

 

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